The Greek philosopher Heraclitus said “The only constant is change.” That principle holds true to this day and is ever more apparent in the current wave of retiring baby boomers and the changing climate of health care. I have both the privilege and the challenge of transitioning new leaders into new roles. Some of these individuals are seasoned administrators and directors of nursing and some have minimal skills in managing a budget or people. What both of these groups have in common is that they are highly teachable, desire to advance their skills, and take on new challenges with enthusiasm. Below are the five best practices that I have found to be instrumental in managing a leadership transition in an ASC:

  1. Be There Physically in the Beginning. Regardless of whether it is an existing employee moving up into the position or someone new to the facility, this is the best way I have found to transition both the surgery center and the new leader. A lot can be accomplished by computers and phones, but being there demonstrates a willingness to get them off on the right foot and support them. This builds a relationship and a level of trust that will pay off when there are tough issues to be dealt with.
  2. Set Goals. By setting realistic goals you reduce the stress of change on both the new leader and the employees they will be managing. Have a systematic check list of information and expectations that will focus their attention to top priorities. There is nothing more unsettling than being given the leadership title without knowing the expectations and having a roadmap for success. Clearly defined goals give the transitioning leader and the person managing them a way to assess their success in the new role.
  3. Do a SWOT analysis. By doing a SWOT analysis you will be able to recognize what the individual views as their Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. This enlightenment gives insight on what the next set of goals will be. It helps the individual learn more about themselves and also assists you in developing them into the top notch leader you expect them to be to have a successful surgery center.
  4. Connect them with the right “go-to” people both inside the facility and out. Make sure that new leadership is introduced to their staff and let them know what staff members will be helpful to them in learning the nuances of the facility. If the facility works with a management company, give them a list of contacts within the company and a description of who to go to when they have a specific need. At Regent, we also connect each new administrator or director of nursing with another seasoned administrator or director that is considered their “buddy.” This welcomes the new leadership not only into the facility but also into the Regent family of surgery centers.
  5. Train a leader by being a leader. I have read many books on leadership and leadership styles and have found that Servant Leadership is by far the best for helping grow people into what you desire them to be. A Servant Leader, as defined by Robert Greenleaf in his 1970 essay, “The Servant as Leader,” is someone who “shares power, puts the needs of others first, and helps people develop and perform as highly as possible.” This contrasts with traditional pyramid leadership structures, which are often more about power accumulation than group success.

At Regent Surgical Health one of the tools that we have to accomplish Servant Leadership are the RISE Values (Respectful Caring, Integrity, Stewardship, and Efficiency). Leading by our principles ensures that everyone in the transitioning facility has a good understanding of the values that we wish to see in that center. Doing this sets the ground rules for the new leader to hire, praise, discipline, and when necessary, terminate the employees they are managing. Every ASC has a culture—the key is to ensure your leadership embraces the culture you require and then give leadership the tools to make it happen. These five best practices will ensure a good foundation for the transitioning leaders and their surgery centers. Once you have completed these steps it is vital to keep the lines of communication open with your new leadership. Continue to monitor their progress and give honest feedback on what is being done well and what areas need improvement. Leadership transitions, even when much needed, are not an easy change and in most instances require a recovery period before the center can perform again at optimum levels. The goal is to set a solid foundation and build on it so you will not have to repeat the transition process in the near future.